Baha’u’llah emphasizes the fundamental obligation of human beings to acquire knowledge with their “own eyes and not through the eyes of others.” One of the main sources of conflict in the world today is the fact that many people blindly and uncritically follow various traditions, movements, and opinions. God has given each human being a mind and the capacity to differentiate truth from falsehood. If individuals fail to use their reasoning capacities and choose instead to accept without question certain opinions and ideas, either out of admiration for or fear of those who hold them, then they are neglecting their basic moral responsibility as human beings. Moreover, when people act in this way, they often become attached to some particular opinion or tradition and thus intolerant of those who do not share it. Such attachments can, in turn, lead to conflict. History has witnessed conflict and even bloodshed over slight alterations in religious practice, or a minor change in the interpretation of doctrine. Personal search for truth enables the individual to know why he or she adheres to a given ideology or doctrine.
Bahá’ís believe that, as there is only one reality, all people will gradually discover its different facets and will ultimately come to common understanding and unity, provided they sincerely seek after truth. In this connection, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:
“Being one, truth cannot be divided, and the differences that appear to exist among the many nations only result from their attachment to prejudice. If only men would search out truth, they would find themselves united.”
“The fact that we imagine ourselves to be right and everybody else wrong is the greatest of all obstacles in the path towards unity, and unity is necessary if we would reach truth, for truth is one.”
As used by Bahá’ís, the term refers to small groups of people who meet with a trained tutor or facilitator in a given locality to study materials developed by the Ruhi Institute and participate in a learning process that usually involves reading, activities related to the arts, service projects, and sometimes social functions.
The purpose of Bahá’í study circles is to provide participants with the knowledge, spiritual insights and skills to enable them to contribute to the betterment of society, starting with their own neighborhood. This is done through systematic study of a sequence of courses based on the Bahá’í Writings using the courses of the Ruhi Institute.
The first in the sequence of seven books is called Reflections on the Life of the Spirit. It examines spiritual matters such as prayer, meditation, life and death and the development of the soul. A brief description of each can be found below. Study circles are held all around the United States and are open to all. You are invited to take inspiration from the Bahá’í teachings, benefiting from whatever gems of wisdom and knowledge will help you to address the challenges you face.
Study circles are held in an uplifting environment conducive to the spiritual empowerment of individuals, who come to see themselves as active agents of their own learning. The role of the study circle facilitator is not to impart knowledge, but to assist discussion. Study circles feature participatory learning, involving discussion with others, and the use of the arts.
Deepenings and Independent Study
Deepening our understanding of the Baha’i Writings and learning about Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation is a creative, challenging process to embark upon. There is so much to learn and numerous sources to use. Beyond study circles the best resources for learning more will be Bahá’í friends, individual reading and study, and small groups that gather to study and share their understanding of a specific topic. Within the Baha’i community, these groups are referred to as deepenings.